By HARRY CLARKE
ROBOTIC manufacturing plants, research and development laboratories and the construction of cutting edge military aircraft are set to revolutionise Darling Downs industry, as the Wagner Corporation lays out its bold vision to make Wellcamp Airport a thriving hub of aerospace and defence development.
Speaking to stakeholders at a business networking event held by Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise (TSBE), Wagner Corporation director Denis Wagner said the arrival of Boeing Australia at the company’s private airport outside Toowoomba would be a game changer for the region.
Boeing announced in September it had chosen Wellcamp Airport as its base to build its first military combat aircraft designed, developed and manufactured outside the US in half a century.
With the first of Boeing’s state-of-the-art, unmanned “Loyal Wingman” Aircraft Teaming System products to begin flying off the Wellcamp runway in 2025, the Caller can reveal more detail about the company’s plans to engage and build local industry as part of its operations for years to come.
WATCH: Boeing’s unmanned Aircraft Teaming System
Expected to create 300 jobs during construction and generate $1 billion for the Queensland economy over ten years, the Boeing project will involve building, patenting and testing the Aircraft Teaming System, before supplying it in numbers to the Royal Australian Airforce and allied airforces around the globe.
Boeing Australia’s production capability manager, David Stilianos, said the unmanned aircraft would be developed from an advanced factory using state-of-the-art robotics and factory management technology.
“We require a broad range of skills sets to support the facility from manufacturing engineers, industrial engineers, programmers, quality inspectors, skilled assembly operators, flight test engineers, warehouse and fitting workforce, not to mention the skills sets that our suppliers will bring into the region,” he said.
“Because it’s being designed in Australia, we’re not limited to some of the normal restrictions we have with US data, so hopefully that enables us to create greater export opportunities across the globe.
“The Wellcamp Airport gave us the opportunity to develop our footprint over time and also give us the opportunity to have our key suppliers co-located with us, if they wish to do so.
“It’s great to see the broader plans to enable the industry to grow around what we’re doing on our site and the opportunity to attract key suppliers to the region as well.”
WATCH: Wagners’ aerospace vision for Wellcamp Airport
Denis Wagner said the Wagner Corporation’s vision was for Wellcamp Airport to play host to a world-leading hub for defence and aerospace research, innovation, development and manufacturing.
“The opportunities that this precinct will create at this airport, for the city of Toowoomba, for our region and for Queensland are enormous,”Mr Wagner said.
“To have Boeing establish their first aircraft manufacturing facility outside North America right here at Wellcamp will give us the impetus to attract a multitude of support industries and organisations for this region.”
He said the aim of the project was to drive industrial development in the Toowoomba region, and generate opportunities for new and exisiting major contractors and small-medium enterprises.
“We have commenced meaningful discussions with an additional 22 potential organisations interested in establishing a base here in Toowoomba,” he said.
“The companies include advanced manufacturers, suppliers to the aviation and defence industries, research and education organisations, aviation maintenance and freight operations.
“As a community and a region we need to ensure we foster these new industries and make sure Toowoomba is ready for the influx of people who will bring new skills for industries.”